Hearing & Hunting: Best Hearing Protection for Duck Hunting

What to consider before buying duck hunting earplugs

So hunting season is here again, your shotgun is clean and ready, you have a supply of ammunition, and you are prepared to go. Your buddy calls you asking if you have a spare safety vest, and while you are talking to him, you realize you can’t hear him that well!

Or maybe you hear a faint ringing sound? If you are a hunter and still have perfect hearing, then you are one of the lucky ones! Hi-visibility jackets are not the only essential safety item when hunting, or doing any kind of shooting. You also need hearing protection, and that is precisely what we are going to discuss in this article.

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In A Hurry?

If require the Best Hearing Protection for this item, and do not want to read the entire article, below are my recommended ear protection.

Which are the best Earplugs For Duck Hunting?

For Duck Hunting, the best ear plugs are Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector with Bluetooth Technology.

However, this will depend on several things. If you use them a lot, for example, if it is your principal job, or perhaps just minor use. Also, if you want to use these ear plugs for other things, like listen to music, or Answer Your Phone.

There are earplug options available, for example: Convenient Fitting, Noise Reduction Rating (NRR), Long-Lasting, Flexibility, and if you want earplugs or headphones. As you can see, there is a lot in picking the best fit.

When you are shooting, you need to get the right sort of ear protection. It is not the same as when you are on a range or doing something more organized, like skeet shooting.

There can be people where you don’t expect them, so being able to hear what is going on in the environment, even with ear protection, is essential – hearing commands and warnings clearly, and to a lesser extent being able to hear those ducks is also vital.

Note. When referring to duck hunting ear protection, it is the same for any waterfowl hearing protection.

I know a great deal about hearing protection, as I left it too late and have bad tinnitus now. This can never be cured, so I am going to have to live with ringing in my ears for the rest of my life. But you don’t have to. I have done all the research on hearing protection – including when duck hunting, and put together all of my findings in this post.

Just keep reading, and in a few minutes you will know the answers to all the essential questions, and will save your hearing – Oh, and don’t forget about your dog’s ears!

Why Protect The Ears When Firing A Gun

As I am sure everyone knows, guns are loud – REALLY loud, and loud noises damage hearing. Usually, this damage to hearing is slow, and it takes several years before there are any noticeable problems. But guns are so loud that hearing damage can be immediate.

When you are shooting duck, you really need the best ear protection. As a hunter, you probably know a few people who shoot regularly and have hearing difficulties.

This does not need to be a problem, and ear muffs do not need to be too expensive to make your hearing last your entire life. But you do need to wear ear protection when hunting, and you need the right type of protection.

man shotgun ear protection0

Ear Plugs For Shooting Activities

When shooting, there are really three types of plug available, depending on the situation:

Shooting Range.

You want plugs that stop all the sound, or as much noise as possible. On a shooting range, people are firing, and standing in set places, so there is little chance of someone being accidentally shot? So hearing instructions is less critical.

There will be many people shooting, so hearing can be damaged quickly. In this situation, you are best with cheap disposable foam earplugs, with a good quality pair of ear muffs over the top for double protection.

This would not be a good choice of hearing protection for the times you are shooting duck

Skeet Shooting (Clay Pigeon Shooting).

In this situation, people are going to again be in set positions. So hearing protection is more important than hearing instructions and the environment. You will look around a lot for the targets so that earmuffs may get in the way.

For this type of shooting, a pair of in-ear custom molded ear plugs are probably the best solution. These fit your ear perfectly, blocking most of the sound.

These are the cheaper plugs and stop all sound indiscriminately. They are perfect for places like shooting ranges where there are a lot of shots being fired, as they are better at protecting your hearing.

Hunting (Including Duck Hunting).

When hunting, you do not want to be wearing muffs that are so effective that you cannot hear what is going on in the environment around you. Anyone who is firing and cannot hear instructions, commands, or shouts of danger, is a risk to everyone in the area, and themselves.

The number of shots over time is usually much lower than on a shooting range. So the importance of plugs that allow you to hear instructions is of paramount importance!

That’s why here you need plugs that will enable you to hear, but suppress most of the extreme noise that occurs when a gun is fired, so that is it not damaging. These come in electronic form, or plastic with a small hole.

The electronic versions are much better, and have a significant advantage over noise-blocking plugs, or wearing no plugs at all. They work similarly to the more common noise-canceling headphones. The muffs you are wearing still block out as much of the sound as they can, but there is a microphone fitted to each earmuff.

This records the sounds and plays them back into a speaker in the muffs. When a deafening sound is detected that could damage hearing is identified, it is not replayed to the speaker. (You will hear it anyway as it is so loud) Or it is played back at a much lower volume that will now not cause any damage

How Fast Gunfire Damages Your Hearing

As everyone knows, guns are loud. Susan E. Terry, Au.D, an audiologist says

“Gunfire is about the worst thing you can do to your unprotected ears. Gunfire is impact noise and is more of an assault on your ears than a constant noise would be. Anytime you’ve got impact noise. You’re going to have issues.”

For example, a typical gun is a 12-gauge shotgun. It is recommended that in your work, wear hearing protection if the volume is an average of 85 decibels. For a quick single sound, about 120dB is considered by most to be safe. A 12-gauge is over 150dB!

“A single blast can cause lasting hearing loss and tinnitus. Once the damage is done, there’s no taking it back.”

Exposure to noise higher than 140 dB can immediately and permanently damage your hearing. Almost every firearm will be louder than this, with large-bore rifles going up to 175dB.

So you can see how important it is to get the best earplugs when duck hunting!

It can affect your life! One hunter said –
“I had a great job offer come up, but couldn’t pass the physical because of my hearing. I’m only 30, can’t imagine how bad it will be if I don’t get serious about it soon.”

Man gun ear and eye protection0

Recommended Earplugs For Duck Hunting

Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff

This is my recommended plug for duck hunters. It will not be right for everyone; we all are different and have varying budgets. Should you not like these muffs, I also recommend the best in earplugs, and non-electronic plugs at both the start and end of the article.

These ear muffs have over 15,000 reviews with an average star rating of 4.5. With this many great independent reviews, you know you will get the great hearing protection for when you are hunting ducks.

List Of Features

  • Ambient sound amplification (Hear people talking better)

  • Automatic noise-blocking (Stop loud damaging sounds)

  • Ultra slim ear cups, padded, adjustable headband (super comfort)

  • Folding design (Does not take a lot of space when unused)

  • Snap-in ear cushions (Change the cushions to suit)

  • AUX Input jack & cord (listen to music or plug-in device)

  • NRR: 22 (Reduces loud sounds by 22dB to protect hearing)

Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Earmuffs gives the wearer fantastic ear protection. It will still allow them to hear the environment with great clarity. These ear muffs will amplify quieter sounds up to 85dB distortion-free. Speech and commands will be readily understandable when wearing these ear muffs. Loud noises above 82dB are blocked – you will still hear them, but significantly reduced.

These are used in the field with comfort, have slim low profile cups for the ears, to keep interference to your shooting to a minimum.

Full Situational Awareness

Directionally placed stereo microphones amplify range commands and environmental sounds to a safe 82 dB

Block Hazardous Sounds

Amplification shuts off at 82 dB and patented Air Flow Control technology provides optimal noise reduction in all frequencies.

Ear Muffs For Shooting

Ultra-slim ear cups with cut-out means they will not get in the way when shooting

Custom Fit For Comfort

Padded and telescoping headband adjusts for a non-slip, comfortable fit.

Small Storage Footprint

Folding muffs for quick storage wherever you are

Headphone Functionality

Connect via cable to smartphone MP3 player, or another device.

Fast Maintenance

Snap-on ear pads make a quick, simple replacement and extend the life of the earmuff.

At What DB Level Is Hearing Damaged?

The damage that sound does to your ears is usually expressed in terms of time and volume. So for example,

  • Leaf blower – 85dB – 2 hours
  • Subway Train – 100dB – 15 minutes
  • Shouting in Ear – 110dB – less than 2 minutes
  • Standing next to siren – 120db – almost immediate

All firearms can do damage almost immediately, if you are too close, and do not have any ear protection. Below is an infographic showing how long you can be exposed to sounds of different volumes, with examples.

Noises When Hunting

The following infographic shows a list of the various noises when you are out and about. Any noise over 70-80db over a long period of time may cause damage to your hearing. A noise of over 120dB may cause immediate harm to your ears

Recommended Ear Protection For Hunters – Details

Please Note: Just because an ear defender is marked, for example, "Gunshot" - it will still cover other things, like "explosions"

Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff

Howard Leight By Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification

Our Score






Quick Review

This is an earmuff that keeps its user safe from hazardous and excessive noise and connected to the environment. The Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification comes with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 22dB. It also comes with an AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners.

The side integrates the power and volume knob. It comes with some other features that make it worthwhile. Such features include; an adjustable headband for a firm fit, low-profile earcups for the firearm stock clearance, compact folding design for secure storage. It also comes with 2 AAA batteries and an automatic shut-off feature after it has been used for 4 hours.

The battery life is long-lasting as it has about 350 hours of battery life and its AAA batteries are from Polaroid. It also comes with microphones that are inbuilt for amplification of range commands and other ambient sounds. The inbuilt microphones also provide free-flowing communication and natural listening.

Points For:

  • Improved communication
  • Durable battery life
  • Built-in directional microphones
  • Very comfortable
  • Doesn’t block all loud noises

Points Against:

  • A bit pricey
Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic...
  • Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication
  • Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 22
  • Features low profile earcups for firearm stock clearance; adjustable headband for secure fit; compact folding design for convenient storage; classic green color
  • Includes AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners. Integrated power/volume knob
  • Includes 2 AAA batteries; automatic shut-off feature after 4 hours increases battery life; approximately 350 hours of battery life; works well and long with Polaroid AAA Batteries

Last update on 2022-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector, Ear Protection, NRR 22 dB, Ideal for The Range, Shooting and Hunting, TAC100-OTH

Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector

Our Score






Quick Review

This is an earmuff that is perfect for both indoor use and outdoor use for hunters and shooters.

It comes with a response frequency that can adapt to any environment, and it does this by reducing background noise for hearing of commands and simple conversations. When indoors, it reduces echoes by the variation suppression time. The battery life of Peltor Sport Tactical 100 is long-lasting compared to other earmuffs like it. It also comes with a headband that can be adjusted to fit any head.

The headband is padded for a comfortable fit. Its batteries are 2 AAA.

Points For:

  • Durable
  • Comfortable to use
  • Adapts to every environment
  • Reduces echoes indoors
  • Noise reduction of 22 decibels

Points Against:

  • Slowly returns to normal hearing
  • Hearing indoors may be hindered.
Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector, Ear...
  • NRR: 22 dB noise reduction rating
  • IDEAL FOR both indoor and outdoor shooters and hunters
  • VARIABLE SUPPRESSION TIME reduces echoes indoors
  • ADAPTIVE FREQUENCY RESPONSE reduces background noise for clearer conversation and hearing of commands
  • DURABLE RECESSED MICROPHONES prevent damage and reduce wind noise

Last update on 2022-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Walker's Silencer Digital Earbuds, Sound Activated Compression, NRR25dB, Dynamic Wind Reduction

Walkers Silencer Digital Earbuds Sound Activated Compression

Our Score






Quick Review

is piece of beauty right here is on this list because of its many excellent features and advantages. This earplug was primarily designed to keep your ear from all unwanted forms of noise and disturbances, and you would find that it does just that. This earplug allows you to enjoy comfort while still staying in that classy zone you’ve always wanted to remain in.

Whether you’re planning on going hunting or shooting, this pair of earbuds is a must-have for you. The mere fact that it features the new and desirable Advanced Digital Circuit Technology makes it an interesting option for your ears. Apart from the fact that it serves the primary function of protective equipment, it also works as an enhancer, and this thus leads to a more helpful hearing testament.

This equipment is purely designed in the United States of America and is equipped for usage in any part of the world.

Points For:

  • Reduces sounds over 85 decibels
  • Can be easily recharged
  • Lithium battery lasts long
  • It features Bluetooth
  • Is very sleek and stylish

Points Against:

  • Not available in different options
  • A bit delicate
Walker's Silencer Digital Earbuds, Sound Activated Compression,...
  • Left & right ear buds (pair) with independent volume control deliver digital hearing enhancement and protection
  • Sound Activated Compression (SAC) Any sounds over 85 DB do not get amplified by the Walker's Silencer, but instead get reduced by 25 DB thanks to the SAC ability.
  • Include 3 different sizes of foam tips to ensure a tight, secure fit
  • Powered by No:10 batteries (4 included) 80 hours battery life (estimated)
  • Carry case included for convenient storing and transport of your silencer ear buds

Last update on 2022-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Walker's Razor Behind the Neck Hearing Protection Ear Buds with sound amplification and compression

Walkers Razor Behind The Neck Hearing Protection Ear Buds

Our Score






Quick Review

The Walker's Razor Behind-the-neck earbuds don't get better than they come, and the design it has ensured you're not impeded or obstructed at any point during your shooting or activity.

The plan also is ideal for individuals who want to carry out operations without getting hindered or prevented by their hearing equipment. The directional mics help you stay aware of your environment by amplifying outside noises. The earbuds feature Sound Activated Compression circuit, which serves to protect your ears from any dangerous sound or explosion.

The LIPO battery helps you enjoy a longer usage time, and the design also makes moving it around rather effortless. It is important to note that this unit is only designed and manufactured in the United States of America.

Points For:

  • Offers comfort and ease of usage
  • Provides 10 hours of usage
  • Features Sound Activated Compression
  • Not intrusive in any way
  • Very sleek and classy

Points Against:

  • Tends to amplify the winds
  • The battery can be inconsistent
Walker's Electronic Behind the Neck Retractable Plugs
  • Behind-the-neck design doesn't interfere with your weapon, allowing for complete target focus. Non intrusive design is perfect for all applications where hearing protection and environment awareness is critical
  • Hi-Gain directional microphones amplify external sounds for increased environment awareness
  • Sound Activated Compression circuit (SAC) provides a no-fail system for protecting your ears from harmful muzzle blast
  • Powered by rechargeable LIPO battery 250mAH battery for 10 hours of use. Auto-Shut Off (low power mode) after 4 to 6 hours. Timer resets and unit wakes after any button is pressed
  • 31dB NRR

Last update on 2022-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Decibullz - Custom Molded Percussive Filters, Custom Molded Hearing Protection

Decibullz Custom Molded Percussive Filters

Our Score






Quick Review

If you have had issues in the past with getting earbuds that perfectly fitted your ears, then be prepared to wave all that goodbye. The Decibullz custom molded percussive filters are primarily designed with your taste in mind. They would fit in your ear perfectly with little stress and without risk of having earaches unlike some other earbuds that are out there.

These earbuds do not fall out of the ears; neither do they trigger irritation or hurt your ears in any known ways. Simply put, these earbuds are not known to have many known faults; neither do they have any stable defects. Although this is not the major talking point of this equipment, it still is a smooth feature that makes it an enjoyable piece to own and use.

The noise reduction that the Decibullz offers merely is second to none. Being custom-molded means to use it, you must immerse the thermoplastic in boiling water, and get the shape tuned to what your ear is about and simply enjoy the beauty. If they are not a perfect fit, you could still remodel them to your taste.

Points For:

  • Reduces noise up to 31-decibels
  • Can be used anytime, anywhere
  • Free of irritation
  • Can mold to your choice
  • Quality noise reduction

Points Against:

  • The molding process can be stressful
  • Complaints about quality
Decibullz - Custom Molded Percussive Filters, Custom Molded Hearing...
  • PEAK SUPPRESSION: These re-moldable Percussive Filters combine Decibullz top-rated custom moldable earplugs with superior percussive filter technology. These Percussive Filters protect from the peak sound pressures created by gun shots, artillery fire, explosions, and more, by suppressing them to safe levels. This helps protect users from long-term hearing damage
  • AUTOMATIC SOUND & PROTECTION: Developed for shooting and military use, Decibullz Percussive Filters feature optimum protection from high level impulse and percussive sounds. The filters are ANSI IPIL certified up to 166 dB. When no damaging noise is present, the Decibullz Filters provide a low attenuation, permitting voice and ambient noise to be heard. This allows for situational awareness not provided by traditional hearing protection
  • NO BATTERIES REQUIRED: These filtered earplugs utilize a physical percussive/impulse filter to provide superior hearing protection without the need for batteries. This means your filtered earplugs are always ready to protect you when you need them
  • CUSTOM & SECURE COMFORT: As with all Decibullz Custom Molded Earpieces, the Percussive Filters are easily and quickly shaped by the user to the exact shape of their ears. They’re also re-moldable so users can find the perfect fit. The custom shape creates a noise isolating earplug that is both secure and comfortable, relying on natural pressure points. They also easily fit under communications headsets and earmuffs
  • HEAT SHAPE REMOLD : These ear plugs are easy to shape to the exact contour of your ear, providing superior sound protection. Simply heat the earplug mold in a cup of boiling water, cool, then insert into your ear. It shapes around your own ear as it cools. Reheat and remold as many times as you like for a perfect fit every time

Last update on 2022-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector with Bluetooth Technology, NRR 26 dB, Ideal for the Range, Shooting and Hunting, TAC500-OTH

Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector

Our Score






Quick Review

With the inclusion of the targeted NRR of 26 dB, this equipment helps to reduce all unnecessary noise, while also amplifying low sounds around. Get protected as you enjoy clear communication and smooth and straightforward design. The kit uses emerging SMART technologies to reduce all dangerous gunshot sounds and also tries to amplify the low tier sounds around.

It is quite lightweight and easy and comfortable to use, and most users commented about its sleek design. Also, it features Bluetooth, which makes it straightforward to sync with most mobile devices.

Points For:

  • 26 dB Noise Reduction Rating
  • Features 2 AA batteries
  • Comes with Bluetooth
  • Mics are recessed
  • Perfect for outdoor and indoor

Points Against:

  • Has little or no padding
  • Not exactly durable
Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector with...
  • NRR: 26 dB noise reduction rating
  • IDEAL FOR both indoor and outdoor shooters and hunters
  • BLUETOOTH TECHNOLOGY to stream music and make calls
  • DYNAMIC SUPPRESSION TIME measures the energy in gunshot noise and automatically sets suppression time for reduced echoes and increased comfort
  • CLEAR VOICE TRACKING seeks voice within background noise and actively filters noise for improved speech intelligibility

Last update on 2022-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Conclusion – Best Hearing Protection For Duck Hunting

If you intend going duck hunting, and will be exposed to sounds of gunshot, they can damage your hearing quickly. If you do not want to lose your hearing, then you need to protect it. Hearing muffs do not need to be expensive and will last you a long time if you look after them properly.

Ideally, you need muff that is going to reduce the gunshots to a level that does not damage your hearing, but will still allow you to for reasons of safety.

If you do not wear some form of ear protection, and you damage your hearing, this damage will be with you for the rest of your life, as it is not possible to repair damaged ears!

People Also Ask

Can Shooting A Gun Cause Tinnitus?

Yes – Shooting has caused tinnitus in many people, especially after they have been shooting a while. How long it takes depends on the environment that you are in, and your own ears.

Tinnitus is most common in people who have been exposed to loud noises regularly over time. However, guns are so loud that even a single shot can cause permanent tinnitus.

How Long Will Ears Ring After Shooting A Gun?

Ringing in the ear will typically disappear within 1-2 days. The time depends on how loud the sounds were, and the conditions of the ear. In some extreme cases it may take a up to week.

The ringing should slowly seem lower in volume until it has eventually disappeared. However, you do not need to worry, as you will wear plugs, right?

How many dB is a gunshot?

The average decibels for gunshot is mostly between 140 and 165 dB, which is quite dangerous for the safety of your ears and loud enough to cause hearing loss. The tolerable decibel for the human ear is 70 dB or below. Sound above 85 dB can prove to be damaging for ears and if you are exposed to it for a longer time, it may cause hearing loss.

Which is why using proper ear protection such as earplugs is important. Earplugs that are specially designed for hunter's offer noise suppression and lessen its severity. Silicon and foam earplugs are ideal for hunters or police officers and military personnel.  

Do soldiers wear hearing protection in combat?

Yes, soldiers do wear hearing protection in combat to dampen loud noises and to enhance ambient sounds that help them stay aware in difficult circumstances. They are given earplugs for protection against loud gunshots by lowering their intensity.

Most of these earplugs reduce noise by 30dB, which is quite significant because an unprotected human ear can only tolerate 70dB and gunshots are much higher than that so protection is important. Soldiers who do not use ear protections are at a risk of suffering from varying degrees of hearing loss.

How many dB can kill you?

Usually, 150 decibels are adequate to bust the eardrums, and 180 to 200 dB is enough to kill a person. A blast of 210 dB can cause an injury to your internal organs such as lungs or kidneys that can lead to death. Wearing earplugs can lower the blow of loud noises by 30dB making them tolerable for you.

70dB is considered a safe threshold for listening. The more the dB is, the less safe exposure time you have before your hearing gets damaged. So if you are constantly exposed to sound more than 100dB, you might suffer from hearing loss.


If you require more information, please check these references

Hunting disturbance and the timing of autumn migration in Anas species , article,“bioone.org”, retrieved on, Wed 29-April-2020 

Duck Populations and Kill: an Evaluation of Some Waterfowl Regulations in Illinois , article, “iopn.library.illinois.edu”, retrieved on, Wed 29-April-2020 

Insider Tips for hunting waterfowl , article, “books.google.co.uk”, retrieved on, Wed 29-April-2020


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NicK Le Page

Experience : Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

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